Speculative Fiction

Eugen Bacon’s début short story collection, The Road to Woop Woop, plays with the genres of speculative fiction and magic realism. Using familiar tropes such as time travel, shapeshifting, and prescient characters, the stories typically refuse formulaic outcomes. The title story, for example, confounds expectations about the horror of bodily disintegration. The ominous angel of death in the story ‘Dying’ turns out to be a true wit. The surreal is transformed by the blessing of love in the heart-warming story ‘He Refused to Name It’.

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Our stories are not working. Whether they be the kind we tell in fiction, or the larger canvas of culture twittering away across the global village, our present reality – the seismic planetary shifts, the pandemical turmoil – evades our collective narrative comprehension. We are clearly at a critical moment in history, the consequences of which will ripple through time in unimaginable ways. In preparation for what is to come, we urgently need to view the frightening present with clarity. Only then, by extrapolating the likely future of our planet, might we begin to imagine a better world. There may not be a more qualified living writer to do this than Kim Stanley Robinson.

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The Hypermarket by Gabriel García Ochoa

by
April 2020, no. 420

The Hypermarket, an enigmatic and deeply uncanny novel, explores ‘mistranslation’ against the backdrop of Nietzsche’s philosophy of Eternal Return. Gabriel García Ochoa’s début novel transforms the Houghton Library at Harvard University into a Borgesian space. As the narrator is undertaking his research, he comes across an excerpt from a letter copied into an old diary. It details the lives of people living in a supernatural Hypermarket, ‘where the linoleum floor gives way to moss and a young, tender turf’. In a highly significant moment, the narrator rips out the pages and stores them in volume six of The Arabian Nights.

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Astronomer Edmond Halley (also known as Edmund, debate still rages over which spelling he preferred) may be best known for the comet that passes through our solar system once every seventy-five to seventy-six years (next sighting due in 2061, set a reminder in your iCal), but in 1692 he proposed an intriguing theory: that the Earth was hollow.

Halley suggest ...

In The Old Lie, Claire G. Coleman has given herself a right of reply to her award-winning début novel, Terra Nullius (2007). Here, she strips away some of the racial ambiguity of the human–alien invasion allegory of that novel and leaves in its place a meaty analysis of colonisation and imperialism ...

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What distinguishes man from machines? What is artificial life, death, progress? These are just some of the questions Jeanette Winterson explores in her brilliant new novel, Frankissstein, a modern take on Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein. Two warnings: first, the structure is complex, as the narrative segues ...

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Mainstream science fiction is a genre that thrives on quantity as much as quality. Such narratives pose the deepest questions; as Douglas Adams once famously put it, these are stories about Life, the Universe, and Everything. Why publish stand-alone space operas when storylines, character arcs, worlds, and revenues can be elaborated across trilogies? ... (read more)

In Melissa Ferguson’s impressive sci-fi début, wealthy, tech-enhanced Homo sapiens cordon themselves off behind a shining wall. In the desert outside their City (‘City 1’), ‘Demi-Citizens’ live in slum conditions, riddled with disease, hunger, and mistrust ...

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Ian McEwan’s new novel imagines an alternative history of England in the 1980s, one in which Argentina won the Falklands War and Margaret Thatcher was subsequently trounced at the polls. It also projects an alternative narrative of scientific progress, one in which the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing did not die in 1954 ...

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According to the online resource Climate Action Tracker, Australia’s emissions from fossil fuels and industry continue to rise and are heading for an increase of nine per cent above 2005 levels by 2030, rather than the fifteen to seventeen per cent decrease in ...

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